02.08.2021 23:28

Lingnan University study finds positive linkage between education and life satisfaction

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HONG KONG, Aug. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Education has long been advocated as the way to a better life and a better society, but little is known about the relationship between education and happiness in considering educational expansion and skills development. A recent study conducted by Lingnan University (LU) in Hong Kong confirms a positive association between educational attainment and life satisfaction at the individual level, however this linkage is undermined by the larger degree of skills diffusion at the societal level, and is no longer confirmed once labour market outcomes are accounted for. On the other hand, societal skills diffusion as such is positively associated with life satisfaction.

To analyse this relationship between education and happiness, the study used European Social Survey (ESS) data for more than 48,000 individuals in 24 countries (Figure 1) and several Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) databases. Specific indicators include education, socio-economic status, life satisfaction and other attributes in conjunction with societal-level factors such as macroeconomy, income inequality, life expectancy, safety, and civic engagement.

The results show there was a positive association between educational attainment and life satisfaction at the individual level. However, once labour market outcomes and especially income levels are accounted for, this positive relationship disappears. Also, the favourable link between education and life satisfaction is undermined by societal skills diffusion rather than educational expansion, so that the advantage of a tertiary degree tends to be smaller in societies where the proportion of highly skilled human resources is relatively large. In addition, the study indicates that skills diffusion promotes life satisfaction at the societal level, and skilled societies are more likely than less skilled ones to show greater levels of subjective well-being (SWB) (Figure 2).

"In highly skilled societies, educated individuals face the diminishing economic value of their credentials, and consequently they may find it more difficult to maintain relatively better levels of life satisfaction compared to their less-educated counterparts," Prof Satoshi Araki, Assistant Professor of Department of Sociology and Social Policy of Lingnan University in Hong Kongexplained, adding that although individual educational qualifications are not necessarily the key to SWB, when looking at labour market outcomes, the accumulation of skilled human resources in a given society collectively enhances general satisfaction, possibly through the meritocratic process of rewards allocation.

"Skills diffusion may enable societies to allocate rewards on the basis of merit rather than socio-economic background or nominal educational credentials, making people feel more satisfied with, or at least encouraging them to accept the current status," Prof Araki said.

These findings were published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-021-00416-y)

Figure 1. Target countries and the number of respondents

Country

Respondents

Austria

2,161

Belgium

1,861

Czech Republic

1,844

Denmark

1,620

Estonia

2,353

Finland

2,176

France

1,960

Germany

2,910

Greece

2,694

Hungary

1,964

Ireland

2,575

Israel

2,346

Italy

887

Lithuania

2,041

Netherlands

1,824

Norway

1,615

Poland

1,863

Russian Federation

2,365

Slovak republic

1,792

Slovenia

1,234

Spain

1,854

Sweden

1,805

Turkey

2,282

United Kingdom

2,221

Total

48,247

 

Figure 2. The association between the level of skills diffusion and happiness in European countries.

For media enquiries, please contact the Office of Communications and Public Affairs of Lingnan University:

Ms Blue Wong
Senior Communications and Public Affairs Officer
Office of Communications and Public Affairs
Lingnan University
Tel: 2616 8964 / 9280 3381
Fax: 2838 1601
Email: bluewong@LN.edu.hk 

Ms Bernice Wong
Manager (Communications & Public Affairs)
Office of Communications and Public Affairs
Lingnan University
Tel: 2616 8988 / 6676 6956
Fax: 2838 1601
Email: bernicewong@LN.edu.hk  

Lingnan University study finds positive linkage between education and life satisfaction

Photo - https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1586687/LU_graph.jpg

Photo - https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1586081/LU_life_satisfaction.jpg

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